Tag Archives: fear of flying

How I Came To Love Airplane Rides

airplane ride

airplane rideI get very anxious when I fly.

Before take off, I find a quiet area in the airport and spend 10 minutes meditating to the Fear of Flying segment on the Headspace mindfulness app.

Then, as soon as we are “wheels up,” I genuflect. Mind you, I’ve not gone to Church regularly since I left home to go to college more than 30 years ago. And yet, as soon as the plane begins take off, I instinctively find myself doing the signs of the cross.

Lately, however, in the wake of my mother’s recent move and the several transatlantic flights I’ve done in recent months, I find myself actually looking forward to airplane rides. 

Why, with a lifetime fear of flying behind me, am I now enjoying airplane rides?

Because it is one of the few times in my life when I let go of the idea that I ought to be doing anything other than relaxing. Simply put, I let go of my “shoulds.”

Much like a sick day, when I get onto an airplane, I take myself “off of the clock.” I stop thinking that it’s a great opportunity to catch up on email (now that it’s available in flight) or to work on my book or to hunt for jobs. Instead, I do my favorite things.

Not raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens. But my version of that, which entails skimming lots of New Yorkers, reading a novel by my new favorite Nordic Noir author, Karl Ove Knaussgaard, and watching the occasional film (but only if I can find one that suits my decidedly dark tastes.) The last two eight hour journeys I took, I didn’t even bother with the films. I watched a bunch of different American television dramas I’d always been curious about but had never sampled.

And that is deeply therapeutic.

Happiness blogger Gretchen Rubin recommends that if you want to declutter your house, pretend that you’re moving. Only with that mindset will you feel the urgency of actually getting rid of things you don’t need.

In a similar vein, perhaps the takeaway lesson from all of this flying of late is that I need to make the rest of my life more like an airplane ride. Whenever I find myself starting to get stressed, my mantra should be: “Pretend that You’re Flying.” No one is watching. My Panel of Elders is sleeping. And maybe then I’ll chill out.

How about you? Do you have a place you go – literally or metaphorically – that absolves you of the feeling that you have to do anything? (Yes, I know. Some people call them weekends, but for reasons that will have to wait until another post, I have a tortured relationship to weekends.)

Do share.

Image via Pixabay.com

New Year’s Resolutions: Set Concepts, Not Lists

authenticity, the authenticity factor

authenticity, the authenticity factorA friend of mine – a well-known and well-respected self-help guru in the States – once told me that New Year’s Resolutions should never be vague and all-encompassing. “Don’t pick something like: Be more virtuous,” she said. “Choose something actionable like: Recycle every day.”

I immediately saw the wisdom in her words. At my job, we are constantly taught to set SMART goals for our projects because the more specific the objectives, the easier they are to implement. As a big fan of To Do lists, I myself have been known to generate not only lists of new year’s resolutions, but lists for how to keep them.

But this January, I’m embracing a radically different tactic: I’m going to set myself a concept, not a list. My watchword for 2016 is – drum roll please – authenticity.

Read the rest of this post over on The Broad Side

Image via Flickr, The World Economic Forum, The Authenticity Factor: Gina Badenoch

Fear of Flying

Yesterday I wrote about the little routines and traditions we establish as we get older that give us something to look forward to at different times of the year. For example, I like to watch the Oscars (there, I’ve admitted it).

But as we grow older we also call upon routines and traditions from our youth to help us through difficult moments as adults.

I had occasion to think about this a few days ago while on an airplane. Right before the plane took off, I instinctively made the sign of the cross as if in prayer. There’s nothing odd about this – lots of people cross themselves at all times of the day and for all sorts of reasons. But I’m not a religious person. And I don’t normally pray. And yet whenever I’m on an airplane, I can’t help myself. As soon as the plane starts down the runway, I instinctively find myself as if in prayer.

I was raised in a religious family and attended religious education until I was 16 or so, so it’s not as if this action comes out of nowhere. But I stopped going to church when I went to college at 18. So I do find it odd that of all the aspects of my religious upbringing, this is the one thing I’ve clung to as a way to help me through the very specific anxiety of flying on a plane.

I also used to rock myself to sleep when I was a child by sitting up in bed and rocking back and forward. To this day, when under stress, I still draw my knees to my chest and rock back and forward (my husband affectionately refers to it as my “rhesus monkey” position, to call attention to the quite similar behavior that rhesus monkeys engage in when deprived of affection by their mothers. This image pretty much says it all).

O.K. So now that I’ve painted a picture of myself as this freakazoid neurotic – half davening, half genuflecting – I’m sure that you’d love to invite me to dinner. But I do think that there’s something universal here. When under duress, we all tend to reach back to these primitive methods of self-soothing in order to reassure ourselves that we can make it over a given hurdle. Some people make themselves a PB and J. Others meditate. My own methods are just a bit more…how to say?…motion-sickness-inducing than the average Joe’s or Jane’s.

On the upside, to counter my anxiety on this particular airplane ride, I also forced myself to stay up and watch the movie The Duchess, a fine period piece starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. I can’t say that watching costume dramas is a holdover from any secret childhood ritual, but it did wonders to calm my nerves.

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